Interesting statistics compiled by the Kauffman Foundation, a researcher that advocates for entrepreneurs, show that when it comes to starting new businesses in the United States, foreign-born immigrants do way more than their fair share. The total percentage of foreign-born population in the U.S. stands at around 13 percent. For the percentage of tech and engineering companies created between 2006 and 2012, 24 percent had an immigrant founder according to the Kauffman Foundation. And in Silicon Valley, the percentage is a staggering 44% percent. Among those founders are WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum and Instagram’s technical lead, Mike Krieger. Kunal Bahl built Snapdeal after graduating from Wharton but returned home to India after failing to secure a U.S Visa upon his graduation. His company was recently valued at $5 billion dollars and employs 4,000 people.
Most of the debate in Washington around tech visas is focused on H-1Bs, normally used by bigger firms and research companies. H-1Bs are not ideal for entrepreneurs trying to start businesses from scratch as they are more for employees of existing and established companies. There are Extraordinary Ability Work Permits which some entrepreneurs obtain if they have already shown a great skill in the business or tech world in their home country. But there still exists a big void in Visa availability for foreign born people looking to launch start-ups. Unlike tech companies which can only apply for a limited number of H-1B visas, Colleges can apply for as many as they want. Some entrepreneurship groups are starting to work with various Colleges to gain access to some of their H-1Bs for potential start-up company founders. Meanwhile, other countries such as Australia, Canada, and Chile are looking to expand their tech presence by capitalizing on the USA’s stringent requirements and the red tape in Washington by offering special visas and tax breaks to entrepreneurs. However, the real desired destination for most entrepreneurs is Silicon Valley and the United States where there is much more growth potential from investors.